WCPI Week 5 – Werit’s Blog (A discussion on a 3rd faction in WAR)
I enjoy a good argument. Not the stupid, illogical, ranting arguments some people have, but the thought-provoking, viewed from all angles type that got me hooked on Philosophy in college. Ended up with a minor in it on accident, didn’t know I had taken that many classes. They were so much fun, I didn’t really treat them like work. :p
What’s my point? Well, I dropped by Werit’s blog because it was pointed out that he had a post on adding a 3rd faction. This is a topic that seems to be going round-and-round in the community and I wanted to see what a fellow WCPI blogger’s take on it was. Now, I like stopping by Werit’s on occasion because he blogs about all kinds of things gaming-related and not just WAR (Star Wars Pinball anyone? booya!) However, this post got me into that old debating-with-my-professor mode that used to make him chuckle and the rest of the class put their pencils down, cuz this was gonna take a while.
I play WAR (duh), but I never played DAoC. Prior to WAR, I played Pirates of the Burning Sea. I’m an avid pirate-history fan having grown up on a sailboat (literally, first 9 years of my life), so that game was my Holy Grail….at first. I’m not going to get into the wonderful/horrible parts of PotBS, I’m just going to discuss how their 4-way NvN worked. (Nation vs Nation as opposed to Realm vs Realm)
There were four “Nations” : British, French, Spanish and Pirate. The three true Nations behaved in the same manner as far as NvN went, they had the same opportunities and goals in regards to the end-game (Controlling the Caribbean) and thus were fairly equal overall in my opinion. (This equates to the current Destruction/Order end-game goals.) The Pirate Nation, however, had different rules for victory but with the same end-goal and were admittedly functioning as merely a “timer” for control of the Caribbean.
In WAR, people say they want a third faction to “balance things out” when one side gets too strong. I’ll be honest, it didn’t work that way in PotBS. If one Nation was strong, it tended to have at least one of the other Nations in its back pocket, whether openly or hidden, leaving the two remaining Nations to get pummeled. On rare occasions, the Nation in the lead would be equally hated by the other three and they would all work together to basically prevent that Nation from being able to do anything at all. Sadly, sometimes three Nations just got together and did this anyway, even if the fourth Nation wasn’t a threat.
This is the problem with having multiple factions. No one, not even the game designer, can control what the people in the third faction will do. Sometimes they might help topple an oppressor, but most likely, they’re going to jump on that bandwagon and be the pocket-faction as it were. Because let’s be honest, if the masses of gamers truly cared about balance and toppling the stronger opponent, a two-faction system would self-regulate on its own.
The problem with WAR’s imbalance is the same problem the Pirate Nation had. There’s no real game-driven motivation to overcome the odds and prevail against the stronger opponent. The game designers left that in the hands of people’s “honor’ and “moral code” and “desire to win as the underdog” and lots of other intrinsic rewards that gamers over the past decade have been trained by previous games to ignore. Yes, in a perfect world, people would do what they do in games for the intrinsic rewards and not the extrinsic, game-provided ones. But just like the real world, game worlds are far from perfect.
I’ll be honest, if PotBS had stopped and given Pirates a valid end-game with goals that were valid, both extrinsically and intrinsically, then I’d have never left it. I loved being a Pirate. Heck, even without a valid end-game, myself and my guild rallied the entire Pirate Nation to dominance on our server….until servers got merged. Gotta love it. But without true in-game motivation to drive people to the end-game and drive them to balance it, RvR/NvN games will always be imbalanced, no matter how many factions you try to add to make it work.
So while it’s fun to theorize how a third faction might work, personally, I’d rather see people theorizing on what might make the two factions we have work. Discuss ways to motivate underdogs via in-game mechanics. Discuss ways to discourage the stronger side from constantly pummeling the weaker. Solutions are out there, we just need to sit down and actually focus our efforts on what the game currently “IS” instead of always talking about what will probably never be.
But hey, that’s just this Dwarf Pirate’s opinion. (OMG, I would SO love Dwarf Pirates as a playable class…crap, nevermind.)